Published on May 16th, 2015 | by Greg0
Audinst’s HUD-mini Value-Priced Compact DAC
Not every piece of equipment has to be perfect- and very few items that we test out can claim to reach for such an impossible goal anyway. Sometimes, you have a budget, or it’s simply physically impossible to balance competing demands- we’d all like infinite battery life, light weight, and incredible durability, but there are limits.
The Audinst HUD-mini isn’t the best-sounding DAC that we’ve heard, and it’s not the best-looking either. But, for a small group of just the right people, it might just be the ideal little device to help boost their audio experience. It’s truly portable, as it’s USB-powered and doesn’t require a lot of extra cabling or worrying about batteries. In fact, the only input is USB, but there are plenty of output options- not only front a 3.5mm minijack port for headphones, a separate 1/4″ headphone jack, stereo RCA and even an S/PDIF optical port as well on the rear.
As with most similar digital-to-analog convertors, the Audinst HUD-mini is compatible with Windows and Mac OSX operating systems, and doesn’t care what software or program you’re using. Native sampling rates go up to 24-bit and 96kHz, so not high-resolution capable, but it can decode and handle better (including the somewhat-unusual 88.2kHz sampling rate). Built with pretty impressive components, like the TI Burr-Brown PCM1791A, it manages to be compact and lightweight (only 160 grams) without compromising on the circuitry. There’s a lot of space and very little noise, even when your sound source is silent, but we wouldn’t use it to drive higher impedance headphones.
But sound is transparent, clean and crisp, with just a small reduction in detail when comparing with larger and more expensive units. There’s a bit less power, leading the Audinst HUD-mini to be a bit quieter on some sets. For the price, though, it’s pretty solid- and for the size too. It’s a great entrance-level model, without much pizazz, and available now for around $120.